VELVET GLOVE, IRON FIST - Act I - Patrick Forsythe


            The vampire looked dead at him and Patrick felt as if he had never known fear before. The rest of his platoon were stuck in amber. Images flashed off to the periphery of his vision. Troopers were grabbing guns, Jez moved to his right, but all too slowly, while Forsythe was focused on her eyes. The corporal was screaming something at him, but it was all too soft for him to hear. However, the female vampire was speaking to him, without moving her lips. "Kill them... they are your enemies... kill them a..."

            Suddenly the door to the interrogation chamber slammed shut. There was a flash of light, like a welder sealing the door, and then the muffling in his mind was gone. The voice of Corporal Mokumbo came clearly into his ear. "Can you hear me, sir?!"

            "Yes, corporal." the Captain took a look around him, troopers scrambling into position, encircling the chamber with their hands outstretched. "What happened?"

            "I think the bitch tried to dominate you. We're trying to hold her until we can bring in the big guns."

            "Sergeant, how long can we hold her for?"         

            al-Hajj managed to walk over to him. "These boys are tough, but it's only a matter of minutes before a vamp like that breaks out."

            As if in response to the words, the lady put the biker down, went to the nearest wall, and punched at it. The triple strength plasteel actually bent! Forsythe had seen a lot of things, but he was amazed at this leech's strength! That stuff was supposed to stop a bio-augmented elephant on combat drugs!

            With some strain by the mages next to that wall, that metal started to flow back into place, despite the lady's repeated punching. Finally, she gave it another frustrated kick, then turned back to stare at Patrick. Even through the magic-resistant field, he could _smell_ the Wyrm-taint.

            She began to pace back and forth, keeping her eyes on the captain, to little effect. That's right, Forsythe thought, you just landed in the wrong warehouse, and there's no way out.

            Then the vampire smiled and stepped back. Grabbing the biker leech, she winked, kicked the floor open, then sunk into the gruond. Jezziah ran to the window right as her head sunk underneath the earth. "How did they do that?!" the excitable corporal screamed out. "I didn't know they could do that!"

            Neither did Patrick, btu he wasn't going to admit to it. "Sergeant, get a squad suited up and get it there."

            "4th Squad's already getting ready."

            "Then get them in there!" Forsythe shot back, louder than he wanted to. Damn, he thought, got to control my temper.

            al-Hajj grabbed a headset from the floor and tweaked it to the right frequency. "Four squad, this is the sarge. Better hup=to, Cap wants to go to dinner."

            Something garbled came back; even with Forsythe's heightened hearing, he couldn't catch it. However, Salah looked over at him and nodded. "They're on their way."

            Sure enough, the six walking tanks, Mark 150 Battle Armor, came rolling in with all their nanotech grey glory. The first one didn't bother unsealing the door, leaning into it, the leader slammed into it, busting it open in one push. The rest followed in, the plasma guns in their arms cycling active. They circled around the floor hole and got ready.

            Listening in on the sergeant's com, he could finally hear the squad leader's voice. "All right, on my mark, Jenkins, Ohe-Mey... you start pounding, the rest keep watch in case... holy shit!"

            Forsythe's head turned to see the leader and his armor slip and drop. Several of the squad turned to fire, but nothing happened; the safeties were still on, they couldn't fire on another suit. Shit! Frozen by a computer glitch, he cursed.

            Suddenly, the undead bitch was up again, running for the open door. The captain wolfedout and charged to meet her. Lifting his claws, the vampire charged out the door. Patrick's arm came down with his razor-sharp claws.

            The woman rolled underneath, still gripping her ward next to her. It didn't seem to slow her down any, latching him to her in a fireman's carry, and then rolling back to her feet.

            Damn, she was fast, Patrick thought, but she was still hampered by the extra body. Her roll allowed him to charge in. The vampire turned, flipping the biker off her back and impaling the boy on his claws.

            While Forsythe was recovering from that more, the lady flipped over the kid, whacking Patrick in the face with his foot. The captain skidded across the warehouse floor while everyone else scrambled.

            She then gave a loud, primal roar; a sound that ripped into his skull. Grabbing the biker again, the woman threw him on her back and raced for the door. One of the suited troopers managed to get back up and started firing after her with solid shot. The bullets hit their target, but with the boy on her back, all you could hear was his agonzing screams.

            As she raced out the door, Forsythe got to his feet and chased after her. In the greyish twilight of Wilke's Star, the ruined landscape set the stage for an eerie chase. This thin woman, carrying a man larger than him, was being chased by a werewolf in full Crinos form. If it wasn't happening to him, Patrick might have even thought it was funny. However, now it was his race, and with her added weight, he was catching up.

            Running down the street faster than aerodynes could go, finally the woman looked back to see him catching up fast. In a final roar of anger, she tossed the biker off her back and right at Forsythe. The impact sent him to the ground.

            The biker's bleeding body covered him in the red ooze. Before he could get up, a foot came down on the boy's torso, pinning him beneath. The woman's face appeared above his and she looked at him with complete disgust. "Today you win, moon rider. I don't have time to kill you, but I can wait. Remember my name..." then she reached down and ripped off the biker's head, sucking the blood that trickled down what used to be his throat. As the last of her childer's blood ran down the front of her dress, she smiled as she said, "...Elizabeth." Then she tossed the head and ran.

            Within a few seconds, the rest of the platoon arrived, but the vampire had already left. Salah came over to him and asked, "Sir, are you all right?"

            "Yeah, yeah," he replied, tossing the decapitated body off him. As he stood up, he asked himself out loud, "I won? How the fuck did I win?!"

            Jez finally caught up with them, running short of breath, but managed a "What are you orders, sir?"

            "Damn it!" Patrick gave one last curse, then looked at the corporal, "Uh... call the boss. Tell her we need immediate evac, our cover's blown." He looked over at the rest of them, a few just now arriving; "I need everything packed and everyone suited in fifteen minutes. Fouth squad covers our ass while we get out. We don't have much time, the Sabbat might decided to pounce on us any minute."

            There was a moment of silence then the platoon sergeant broke in, "You heard the cap! Move it, maggots!"


            "Shore leave!" Forsythe cursed, walking out of the shuttle transfer station on New Paris Three. "What the hell are we, the navy?! You know, Salah, if that colonel wasn't the best damn commanding officer I ever had, I'd kill her!"

            "I think she had a point, sir." The platoon sergeant was nice enough to tag along with him. "We've been undercover for three weeks. That's enough to drive anyone crazy."

            "But now?! When Cortez is getting away back on Avalon?"

            "Colonel Nostros already assigned another platoon to it. When they find him, she'll tell us."

            "Great. In the meantime, we're sitting here on..." The system of New Paris was known as a suburb of Avalon. Many of the corporate execs had apartments on the crowded capital, then went home to New Paris through the digital gate on the weekend. An expensive commute, but possible, as the third planet testified. A great place to raise your kids in but it looked boring as hell. "...New Paris with nothing to do for three days."

            "Don't worry, cap," Salah winked, "I know the perfect place to go."


            Ten hours later, they were on the other side of the world, on a big hill of a park strapped in the middle of another one of the many perfectly planned communities. These were the sort of places that mandated what kind of grass you had to have in your front lawn. However, Maine City had one redeeming virtue; its row of excellent bars.

            One of the beautiful things about being a werewolf was their ability to consume large amounts of alcohol to no bad effect. However, after spending several hours barhopping, both of them were relaxing on the side of the hill, nearby a modern stone circle was at the top. Two people were talking above them, but even so, the sheer enormity of the open sky above lulled the officer and the sergeant into quietness. The stars above twinkled with a beauty that he had mostly admired from the windows of spaceships.

            "I keep forgetting how many people are out there."         

            Salah looked over at him. "Sorry?"

            "The Federation is filling with billions of people, but this is the most we get to see of them."

            "Would you really want to see all of them?"

            "I mean, I've spent most of my life in the Tech Infantry, but I seldom get to see the people I help."

            "Well, I think that..." the sergeant never finished his sentence. At that point, suddenly a burst of machinegun fire erupted from the other side of the hill. Both of the career TI flipped around on their stomachs at the sound. It appeared to hit someone in the stone circle above them. Motioning in sign language, Patrick motioned for the two of them to move closer, to see what was going on. In a few seconds, they suddenly had a real good view of what was happening.

            Within the stone circle, some French-looking guy with a huge mustache, was pointing a pocket crossbow at a Latino, dressed in black, and with enough bullet holes in him to market him as Swiss cheese. Yet the guy was still standing; shit, Forsythe thought, vampires. He must be a magnet for the Wyrm.

            "What do you..." the walking dead started to say, but Mustache cut him off.

            "Shut up! You've shown me your strength, now I'll show you mine. I don't want to kill you, but I've shown you that I can. I just want to be left alone."

            "You have no choice." With a shout, the Latino leapt into the air. Mustache fired, but missed. The Latino knocked him to the ground as he landed on him. Patrick was just left stunned with amazement. What was going on here?

            As Latino was raising his claws for the final strike, another person, a beautiful female, rushed out with celeric speed, activated some sort of overactive laser pointed, and charged towards them. The black suit cried out, "You fool! Now you're food for the..."

            The Latino never finished his sentence before her red beam of light rushed past, cut through his neck, and severed his head from it. Black suit's body collapsed on Mustache as she finally stopped. Monofillament, Forsythe thought, it was the only thing that this laser blade could be to cut _that_ well.

            The businessman finally pushed the body off him and got a better look at who rescued him. The look on his face was one of shock. Then again, she thought, if someone was beheaded in front of me, I'm sure I'd be freaked too.

            Still pointing her sword at him, she smiled as she said, "Strange company you keep. Better watch yourself next time."

            "How did you..."

            "I followed you up the hill. What was going on here?"

            He blinked and then replied. "I was trying to find you, Deidre."

            The sound of her name lowered her sword a fraction. Now it was HER time to be shocked. "How do you know my name?"

            "I know many things, emme, and I want to make a deal."


                                                END OF ACT ONE


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Text Copyright © 2000 by Marcus Johnston.  All Rights Reserved.